Germany and Norway are planning hydrogen pipelines


Germany just got a step closer Finding a long-term, greener replacement for Russian natural gas and coal.

German power producer RWE (RWEOY) and Norwegian state-owned energy company Equinor on Thursday announced plans to build hydrogen-powered power plants in Germany over the next few years, as well as a major pipeline between the two countries to feed them.

The agreement, which is not yet legally binding, is part of Germany’s efforts to phase out all coal-fired power plants by 2030 and to decarbonise the energy sector. Berlin has dramatically moved away from Russia as a source of energy since its invasion of Ukraine and needs to find safe alternative suppliers.

“Through this collaboration, we will strengthen long-term energy security for Europe’s leading industrialized country,” said Anders Opedal, CEO and President of Equinor, in a joint statement.

The power plants, jointly owned by RWE and Equinor, will initially run on natural gas produced in Norway before switching to “blue” hydrogen, also produced in Norway from natural gas and pumped through the subsea pipeline, the companies said .

More than 95% of the carbon dioxide emitted from hydrogen production is captured and stored under the seabed, they added. Equinor plans to build 2 gigawatts of “blue” hydrogen production capacity by 2030.

The ultimate goal is to produce so-called “green” hydrogen from renewable energy produced by offshore wind farms, they said, without specifying target dates.

The European Union has set itself the goal of building up a production capacity for renewable hydrogen of 40 gigawatts by 2030.

“A rapid ramp-up of the hydrogen economy is urgently needed,” said Markus Krebber, CEO of RWE, in the statement. “Blue hydrogen can be used in large quantities to start with, with subsequent conversion to green hydrogen.”

The companies didn’t say how many power plants they intend to build or the value of their joint investments.

Norway is now Europe’s largest supplier of natural gas Official statistics of the EU. Since Russia began cutting its exports to the bloc in retaliation for European sanctions over the war in Ukraine, the Nordic country has increased its own exports to fill the gap.

“In the midst of the energy crisis, we see the importance of Norway as a reliable gas supplier for Europe, but we also see the importance of moving faster to more renewable energy.” Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told reporters in Oslo on Thursday, according to a Reuters report.

Just before Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Germany scrapped plans to use the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, built by Gazprom, to deliver up to 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year — or more than half of Germany’s annual consumption.

In the months that followed, Russia drastically curbed the flow of natural gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Flows in this pipeline stopped completely in August when it was closed for repairs. It has not been reopened.

Both pipelines were hit by a series of explosions a month later. Denmark and Sweden said the infrastructure had been deliberately attacked, and the Swedish Security Service said it couldn’t be ruled out “that a foreign power was behind it”.

Suspicion has fallen on Russia as it is the only actor in the region believed to have both the ability and motivation to intentionally damage the pipelines. The Kremlin has denied the attack on the pipelines.

After the blasts, NATO pledged to “react jointly and decisively” if the damage turned out to be intentional.

– Charles Riley and Julia Horowitz contributed reporting.

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